2004 High Mile Prius - Suspension Issues

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Care, Maintenance and Troubleshooting' started by Frontporch, Sep 5, 2021.

  1. Frontporch

    Frontporch Member

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    I recently picked up a 2004 Prius that was most likely headed toward the recycler. Its not pretty, but I took it on as a project to bring it back to life. First thing, its a 2004 with 250K miles, so its value, even in perfect shape probably tops out around $3500 (just a guess). It will never be perfect. Was used to transport workers for a solar power installation company. It was not treated like I treat my car. I spent the last weekend searching local lots just to find missing broken interior parts. I also nicknamed it ashtray. I think it will probably be worth no more than $2000 if I get all the issues squared away.

    Powertrain and basic operation, I was shocked that everything seems to work well. Besides its cosmetic flaws it seems that the biggest issue is the suspension. It drives and tracks OK, just has a noticeable clunk and I couldn't find anything loose while I had it on jack stands. I know from experience (with my Prius) that the passenger front wheel bearing has started to go bad but that's a different noise This noise is very apparent even when I pull out of my driveway. I turn the wheel backing up and when the front tires drop from the apron to the street, it feels like the steering wheel is hit by a hammer. Not loud but a surprising shock. Same for the other wheel. Driving is fine, but at lower speeds when a series of pot holes appear, it feels like something hammering on the floorboard by my feet and in the steering wheel. I guess that doesn't say much because the seat has a lot of cushion.

    Apologize for the length of this question, but I am looking for suggestions.. if not suggestions for where to look, even how. I found no looseness anywhere. I went underneath with a pry bar... The front struts were replaced by the previous owner. I will lhave to check the mileage. The rear sock bushings were destroyed, but I don't see any issues in the front.

    Also, I will probably try to remedy this with used parts where it makes sense. This has to do with the value of the vehicle and that my 2006 with 225K miles has no issues with all original parts. Are the suspension parts from 2004-2009 compatible? Talking control arms, tie rods, struts, rear shocks.

    Thanks everyone !
     
  2. nancytheprius

    nancytheprius Member

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    sounds like your issue is probably different than mine but the part which gets scratched by curbs in parking lots (think it’s called splash shield) is noisy at low speeds, on bumps, and sometimes when turning so i duct taped it and i almost never hear it now. there’s a bolt on each side that mine came loose from. i can take a pic today or tomorrow when i’m back to illustrate better
     
  3. JC91006

    JC91006 Senior Member

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    There was a recall for the car, for the intermediate shaft to be looked at, possibly replaced by the recall. You can look up recall information for your specific car, I think you can punch in the VIN information at various website to look up outstanding recalls that may not have been completed.
     
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  4. Frontporch

    Frontporch Member

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    Nancy, its not a splash shield. its a suspension clunk that I feel in the steering wheel. By the way, I have had pretty good success buying generic nylon clips and use those to secure all the plastic not secured by a screw. Don't get plastic that snaps. Nylon has flexibility and is more like what the car came with. Something like this

     
    #4 Frontporch, Sep 5, 2021
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2021
  5. Frontporch

    Frontporch Member

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    tried to look up open recall issues based on VIN and got an error online. Its a good thought and I will try again later. Thanks
     
  6. JC91006

    JC91006 Senior Member

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    If the recall was completed and only the "bolt" was replaced. Then you probably have an issue with the intermediate shaft itself. I never did understand just the bolt replacement on this recall

    If the recall was completed and the intermediate shaft was replaced, then the problem would unlikely be the shaft again (but still possible)
     
    #6 JC91006, Sep 5, 2021
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2021
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  7. edthefox5

    edthefox5 Senior Member

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    Like JC said it may be missing the recall of the steering shaft which is dangerous. You can tell its not had its updates if the bottom of the gas pedal is not chopped off. That was during the run away prius days and they had a campaign to make sure the carpet mat did not jam the pedal so the G2 gas pedal should be really short. Dealer did the shaft & the pedal chop on same visit.

    Mine does not have your issues except its starting to clunk too I hear it if I drive over grass or dirt road. I suspect its the lower control arm as its a beefy clunk not like a stab link but it has not progressed to pavement clunking. Struts are fairly new.

    Go to toyota.com/owners site. Join and have your insurance card ready as it will require the cars vin. If successful joining it will then show you all the service campaigns the car has seen at an authorized toyota service dealer. It will also show all visits to a toyota dealer from the previous owner.

    Post some good pictures of the front suspension lets see how bad it is.
     
  8. Frontporch

    Frontporch Member

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    Thanks Ed. Will post some in the morning

    I am a member of the owners group. Never thought to check recalls.

    I use that site to look at maintenance history. Have found some interesting things. A car for sale said 130k miles and there were service records for over 200k miles. I let the seller know that is illegal

    also found a record for my other Prius where they told the owner the Prius had a transmission problem. That was before the seller bought it. Original owner must have traded it that week and I bought it a year later needing a transmission for a pretty good deal
     
  9. Frontporch

    Frontporch Member

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    Ok. Going to dig into the wheel bearing and take pictures on the way. All recalls were done according to Toyota owners site
     

    Attached Files:

  10. edthefox5

    edthefox5 Senior Member

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    It should list the recall campaigns just like any other listing. I see mine clearly listed with Date & time and what was done. If none listed
    none performed. Dont know if they will still honor the steering shaft. Lots of threads on it in the search forum link search steering shaft.

    here:

    https://priuschat.com/search/252761245/?q=steering+shaft+recall&t=post&o=relevance


    Pretty beat up under there lbj does not look good stab links shot and pic 211689 does not look good like the mount area took a hit as its bent.
    But you can pick away at it. I would not drop alot of money under there.

    Good luck.
     
  11. Frontporch

    Frontporch Member

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    It looks like the recall was done... at least if this note in the service history is any evidence
    upload_2021-9-6_20-51-40.png
    I don't see another place to get a listing specifically for recalls.

    I did replace the wheel bearing today and had things disconnected. I couldn't sense any play in the components, but I see that you have found a lot of things that don't look right. I could use some education here. I know that a lot of these parts that go bad are rubber bushings or ball and socket connectors. With the bushings if they aren't clearly torn, I can't tell good from bad. As for the ball and socket connectors, if they aren't loose and the rubber cover isn't ripped, I can't identify issues.

    If you don't mind, how do you determine which components are bad?

    I looked a little into the steering shaft warranty and not sure if this is for the 2004, but I saw a splined shaft that goes into a female part that was made with too soft a metal. Looks like my fix was only to replace the bolt that secures the part around the splined shaft. Does that make sense?

    I also need to determine which picture is the one with the bent frame.

    Bottom line is I am not going to pass this car off to someone else if it isn't safe.
     
  12. Frontporch

    Frontporch Member

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    I see the bent mount. Yikes. the forward LCA bushing. Probably can't even get the LCA out like that. :(

    Is there compatibility with parts for 2004-2009, suspension and that steering shaft that was not changed out?

    just went outside and this is the other mount also has the same crooked profile BDBAA2B2-1A35-43C7-8DA8-E68F43A5BE12.jpeg
     
    #12 Frontporch, Sep 7, 2021
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2021
  13. Frontporch

    Frontporch Member

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    I came up with an idea to test if steering column/tie rods are the culprit for my noise. When I back out of the driveway and the tires drop down 1" from the apron to the pavement, I get the feeling that the tires are going to fall off. A clunk that I can feel in the steering.

    I did the same thing with the steering at full lock left and then full lock right. My thinking here is that I have taken all of the play out of the steering and guess what??? totally silent.

    I discovered that the steering recall was for a part that is easily accessible by the driver's feet. Not sure why I pictured it below/behind the motor out side the vehicle. NICE. The two bolts on the joint in question were not tight. I gave them a good tightening (?why didn't they use lock nuts on the back??) The steering play is NOT gone, but it feels a little better. I am going to look for other things to tighten and then I am going to look for replacement parts, since they are easy to access. Hopefully also easy to swap out.
     
  14. edthefox5

    edthefox5 Senior Member

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    Hi
    The joint with the recall is outside the cabin. You can see it clearly with a flashlight under the hood and get in the right uncomfortable position over the inverter. Just think of the steering shaft as a straight line penetrating the cabin and look for it as it penetrates the cabin.

    What you addressed was the steering wheel u joint which is needed as you lower or lift the steering wheel to the position you desire. With a u joint it works in any position.
    Its under a rubber flap in the cabin as the shaft leaves the cabin. I have sprayed lube on it a few times as it was squeaking a little once.
     
  15. Frontporch

    Frontporch Member

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    9FD3E694-9DBD-48A8-BDBE-1DA6F9408E01.jpeg The picture above is the upper universal joint it was hard to get at but there was definite play there even though the bolt didn’t feel loose took a small wrench and grunted it a little tighter
    The picture below is the joint that I believe was in the recall Two different color bolts both loose Made those tighter it’s a small ratchet If I had to guess torques I would say maybe 25 -30 ftlb was what I may have gotten on it

    Test drove and the noise is greatly reduced and very little play on the steering CCFB6EE9-3FE2-452E-AAE1-02630E590753.jpeg
     
    #15 Frontporch, Sep 7, 2021
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2021
  16. Frontporch

    Frontporch Member

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    Not sure a 2004 is setup like this. With my hand I found nothing but a rubber sleeve where the steering column passed from the chassis to the rack. Probably a sturdy bearing and a straight shaft in that sleeve

    I have nothing but respect for the work the Toyota engineers perform when they design these vehicles. I also understand suppliers may provide parts that fail to meet specifications. The recall has me concerned. I had a single bolt replaced that either came loose or the connection continued to wear. If it’s the former why not apply thread lock or lock the bolt with a nut on the back. I will be using a nut so I don’t disturb these joints
     
  17. edthefox5

    edthefox5 Senior Member

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    Ok was not aware the steering system is different than my 07.
     
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